Countdown to Bliss

Michael Kelly and Mary Beth Maioli

Met: Oct. 13, 2005

Engaged: July 3, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: May 12, 2007

After a few months of dating Michael Kelly, Mary Beth Maioli, who is something of an indie-music snob, started a campaign against his David Gray collection. “I have no culture,” conceded Mr. Kelly, 33, a vice president at Credit Suisse who hails from Brisbane, Australia.

“I try to get my great taste on him,” said Ms. Maioli, 31, a creative-services manager at Blueprint, a branding marketing agency (in other words, not even she understands her job description).

As the two of them bounded down the steps of the Madison Square Garden Theater, toward front-section seats at a sold-out concert by the Icelandic group Sigur Rós, Ms. Maioli tripped, tearing three ligaments and spraining her ankle before the band even arrived onstage. But she staunchly refused to go get help. “She’s sitting there in agony, and her foot starts swelling and swelling,” Mr. Kelly said.

“I felt, ‘It’s a sold-out show, it’s packed, they’re playing, I’m not getting up again, even if my foot might fall off,’” Ms. Maioli said.

After the final set, Mr. Kelly got help to carry her out of the theater. They spent Valentine’s Day in the orthopedic surgeon’s office, and for the next eight weeks Ms. Maioli was on crutches, picking her way through the icy streets …. It’s hard out there for a gimp!

Mr. Kelly let Ms. Maioli move into his one-bedroom temporarily and began dropping her off and picking her up from work, though his job makes it hard to leave his desk. “It should have put a huge strain on our relationship,” he said, “but it …. ”

“Catapulted it!” Ms. Maioli finished.

They met on what started as a bad night for Mr. Kelly; he had a cold and his division had just lost a major trade. When the bell sounded, he was ready to call it a night.

“Nah, c’mon, let’s go out,” said a co-worker.

Unable to squelch his essential up-for-anything Aussieness, the round-faced, redheaded Mr. Kelly allowed himself to be dragged to Vertigo, a dive bar in the Gramercy area near his apartment. The co-worker called a friend, and the friend brought along Ms. Maioli, a slender, oval-faced blonde who was in the midst of packing for a move from a studio in the neighborhood to a share in Cobble Hill. “I lived and worked within the same five blocks,” she said. “I was like: I can’t take it anymore. I have to get out of this bubble.” She was wearing sweatpants, a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of her new borough and a weary expression. “The way I looked, I’m surprised any guy actually wanted to talk to me,” she said. But Mr. Kelly did.

Ms. Maioli found him sweet but thought she spotted a wedding band. On closer inspection, she realized that it was just a shadow. “I was like, ‘Well, this takes everything in a different direction,’” she said. The group ventured west to Pop Burger for some fancy fast food ( burp), after which she and Mr. Kelly exchanged a gentle kiss.

“I was rooting for you guys,” said the bartender when they returned to the restaurant three months later.

The couple is eying a 2.5-carat Asscher-cut solitaire diamond and mulling a wedding in Maui, a convenient midpoint between New York and the outback. Mr. Kelly proposed during a vacation with Ms. Maioli’s family at their cabin in the Adirondacks, plunging to one knee as the couple was hiking.

“I thought he was having a heart attack,” said the bride-to-be.

Amy Cook and Fred Santarpia

Met: 2002

Engaged: Jan. 20, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Feb. 24, 2007

Major hors d’oeuvres crisis looming! Amy Cook, a petite, Jewish, California-born vegan, plans to marry Fred Santarpia, an Italian meat lover from Staten Island, at a Georgian mansion called Shadowbrook in ( shhh) New Jersey.

Emboldened by wine, Mr. Santarpia proposed in a private room at Philip Marie in the meatpacking district (great place to take a vegan!), with a pavé-encrusted, platinum-set, cushion-cut, two-carat diamond ring designed by Raineri Jewelers in the Bowery in the style of Tiffany’s Legacy ring.

The couple, who share a Park Slope one-bedroom, met at Universal Music Group, where Ms. Cook, 30, works as a manager of global finance. When Mr. Santarpia, 29, started there as an I.T. finance analyst, he immediately noticed her big hazel eyes and delicately pointy nose—but held off on making a move for an entire year because of the bouquets and balloons constantly barraging her desk. Turns out they were from dear old dad.

At long last, the two co-workers snuck off together to Sushi Samba. “Dinner, not a date!” Ms. Cook warned Mr. Santarpia, who has slicked-back black hair à la Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Whatever ….

“Amy basically spoke the whole night, and I sat there and nodded a lot and listened,” he said.

“This isn’t going to work,” she told him after the check arrived.

“I respected her,” Mr. Santarpia said coolly, “because it’s work and it’s sensitive. But at that point, I knew we were going to date again.”

A second dinner, at Yama, led to drinks at Belmont Lounge, and then a blurry stroll to her apartment building in Chelsea.

“Do you want to come up for tea?” Ms. Cook asked, though it was 1 a.m.

“Sure,” Mr. Santarpia said, thinking: Awwwright! “At that point, I kind of felt my odds were better than even,” he recalled.

As the kettle boiled, he tried to squeeze next to her on a footstool. “You know, there are other chairs,” Ms. Cook said.

“There were no other chairs,” Mr. Santarpia said, remembering. “There was more clutter in this apartment”—a studio—“than you could possibly hope to see.” Including many stacks of books—“but all about astrology and sex therapy.” Not that any of the latter was administered to him that night, alas. “But I did get quite a first kiss.”

“The one where you swallowed my face?” Ms. Cook responded, as the Love Beat shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other.

Next time they met at his place: a one-bedroom on the Upper East Side. Ms. Cook was touched when Mr. Santarpia ordered a pizza with only half the cheese. “Even my closest friends, I don’t think, would take the initiative to do that,” she said.

Her new beau was also thoughtful when buying a Christmas present for Ms. Cook, who was born with a cleft lip: He donated $250 so that a child with the condition could get corrective surgery. When she called to tell her dad about the gift, he started crying. “I can’t believe this person who’s walked into your life,” he told her.

Mr. Santarpia feels pretty lucky too. He recalled how Ms. Cook made his family’s famous chicken Parmesan recipe as a special birthday treat for him. “When she decided to become a vegan, she didn’t touch meat, didn’t want to be around it, certainly didn’t cook it,” he said. “All of a sudden, she finds herself dating an Italian who has meatballs and sauce every Sunday. She basically put herself aside and said, ‘I know this is going to make you happy, so I’m going to do this.’ It said a lot to me about how she works, and how she puts other people ahead of herself. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know. That’s why I wanted to be with her.” Countdown to Bliss